Teesside Solidarity Movement (TSM) is a new explicitly anti-capitalist/anti-cuts group, seeking to engage in direct action, whilst developing bottom-up organisation, hopefully on a sustainable basis.
The origins of the grouping are in the 4 People Not Profit Human Rights/Global Awareness events network and plans made by Teesside-based activists to celebrate May Day 2013 in a more imaginative and creative manner that it was hoped would stimulate anti-capitalist activism and promote workers’ struggle.
The group emerging from this process began to organise regular activity including a council lobby, a street presence in seven separate locations across the Teesside area and the development of a campaign against the Bedroom Tax.
Other initiatives have included the setting up of an artists’ collective, plans for activist cafe/co-operatives, local TSM groups, guerilla gardening, family picnics and environmental/educational events.
The utilisation of social media has been a well-exploited tool with a Facebook group approaching three hundred.
Whilst clearly standing in the anti-capitalist tradition, TSM includes a small number of Labour Party members, alongside activists from a range of anarchist and Marxist groups, independents and those new to political activism form a majority.
The general approach to the Labour Party has been pragmatic, however its denunciation of pro-cuts, Labour Party councillors rattled a number who initially sought to take advantage of the TSM activist base for its own ends.
How different individual groups and individuals relate to the TSM varies. Its fortnightly central structure is starting to take shape as a horizontally organised mechanism for directing and facilitating the work of upwards of a hundred individual activists.
Fighting austerity we are looking at developing practical support networks to facilitate our campaigning.
A May Day demonstration, organised by local trade union branches, will be held on 27 April (we are organising our own May Day celebrations in May day week starting on 1 May). It is being enthusiastically backed by TSM who will seek to turn this event into a carnival of resistance.
Arguably, this reflects our ambition and determination to rejuvenate a culture of protest, rehabilitating the notion that collective action gets results and that being hard-up is not a crime.
With a month to go, we plan to build for a demo of thousands, mobilising from our local communities, dovetailing this with general campaigning on the Bedroom Tax and other anti-cuts issues.
It’s been inspiring to see previous non-politically active individuals taking a lead.
It would be good to share experiences with others in the construction of a new militant working class movement, both independent from the Labour and trade union bureaucracy, but drawing from the best traditions of Marxism, anarchism and direct action.
As an experienced militant since the mid 1980s, it’s positive to note my own voyage of self-discovery through embracing the TSM project.
A local AWL member described it to me as “brilliant, if a little bit outside of my comfort zone” and I guess this sums it up well.
Meeting some great new people and making new friends has all been part of the mix, as has been the unleashing of clear collective talents, often left dormant in people.
Imagine if society was based on this dynamic, we could achieve anything.
• Contact us to share ideas: 07804 799562.